Los Angeles Times

Consumer Confidential: Say what? How an $800 charge for hearing aids soared to a $3,600 healthcare bill

It's bad enough that U.S. healthcare prices are the highest in the world. That the healthcare industry routinely treats us as marks and suckers makes it infinitely worse.

San Juan Capistrano, Calif., resident Dennis Ettlin, 70, was shopping in the most recent Medicare open enrollment for a new Medicare Advantage plan that would cover his hearing aids. A state-of-the-art pair, he knew, could run thousands of dollars.

Ettlin came across an attractive offer: an Anthem Blue Cross plan that covered "up to $3,000 for hearing aids and supplies every year." The only catch was that the hearing aids had to be purchased from

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